Nepal plane crash searchers fly drones to search gorge, one person still missing

Yeti Airlines ATR 72 turboprop
Bhupendra Shrestha / Wikimedia Commons

Rescue teams used drones to explore a 200-meter deep gorge to search for one person who remains unaccounted for after a Yeti Airlines ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop crashed in Nepal.

Rescuers are struggling to find the bodies of all 72 passengers and crew members who were onboard. So far, searchers have recovered 71 casualties, but one person is still missing.

Speaking to Reuters on January 17, 2023, Pokhara police official Ajay K.C. said that weather conditions, such as fog, and difficult terrain are making the search and rescue process challenging.

However, the search will continue until all the bodies are found.

“We are sending search and rescue personnel using ropes into the gorge where parts of the plane fell and were in flames,” the police officer said, adding that rescuers are also struggling to identify the bodies found.

Fatal crash

The fatal accident happened on January 15, 2023, when a Yeti Airlines ATR 72 aircraft, registered 9N-ANC, was operating passenger flight YT691 between Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport (KTM) and Pokhara International Airport (VNPR).

While on final approach to runway 12, the aircraft lost altitude and crashed inside a gorge for an unknown reason. It impacted the bank of the Seti River located between the new international airport and the old domestic one (PKR).

The newly built international airport replaced the old Pokhara Airport, which was decommissioned on January 1, 2023.

Footage of the incident showed the aircraft steeply banking left just seconds before contacting the ground.

A total of 68 passengers and four crew members were on board.

Black boxes recovered

On January 16, 2023, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) officially confirmed that rescuers had recovered the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), the so-called black boxes, from the wreckage of the plane.

According to the CAAN, both devices are in good condition, so the data recorded will help the investigation team to find out what caused the aircraft crash.

Data from the CVR, which records and stores the audio signals from the flight crew microphones, earphones and the surrounding area in the flight deck, will be investigated locally in Nepal, according to a Napal News report.

Meanwhile, the FDR data, which consists of specific aircraft performance parameters collected from plane sensors, will be sent to the aircraft manufacturer’s ATR headquarters in Toulouse, France for detailed analysis. An expert team from Pratt & Whitney Canada will also join the accident investigation.

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